CeeJ and I have been mulling around riding the Extraterrestrial Highway for a while. This weekend we made it happen.
The plan was to start early afternoon (after CutiePie’s swim practice). Unfortunately, CJ’s Shadow made it as far as the end of his street before it took a dump and would not start again. He had to push it back up to his house and change bikes, obviously moving everything he packed the nigh before from one bike to a backpack. We left Vegas probably around 3 in the afternoon.
The ride up the 95 went by pretty uneventful. CutiePie took some pictures from the back – of her gloves, her pants, the asphalt – and filled up the camera memory. Mental note: the camera memory is not a good backup storage. CJ reported that CutiePie was occasionally practising her synchro moves on the back of the bike – too bad we don’t have any video of that. Beatty was the first gas stop, next to The candy store of course.
Onwards through Goldfield up to Tonopah. Both of these are quickly becoming ghost towns, leftovers from the gold-rush days. I was actually very pleasantly surprised how well maintained the town centre of both towns was.
I woke up the next day around 8 (we did say no rush, right!), with both CJ and CutiePie both staring at me like: can we go yet? After the continental breakfast (mmmmm bacon! ) we took a short walk around Tonopah. One, we wanted to gauge the morning temperature, and two, we wanted to see the town in daylight. If you are going to stay, I recommend the Mizpah hotel – it still has the old charm to it. We did not get a room there (no vacancy), but did have our dinner there. Eventually opted for for the winter riding pants, since I brought them along, but not the extra sweat shirt.
We got on the road probably just before 11. By this time I was sweating like a pig! About 40 miles out of town, I decided to pull over on the side of the road to zip up all the vents on my jacket and pants. The temps were getting below freezing, before the wind chill factor! A state trooper just happen to drive by, and pulled over to ask us if we were OK. On a whim I asked him if we are heading the right way towards the 375. He told us that we are headed exactly the opposite direction! We need to go back through Tonopah, and take the 6 towards Ely. The freaky thing is that about 5 miles back we passed a rest stop, where I was originally thinking of stopping to zip up, and where the trooper would have never seen us. By the time we were back in Tonopah, I had to gas up again, especially considering the next gas after that was going to be in Alamo – about 160 miles away; my bike has a range of 150 miles, riding 1up, down hill, with a good strong back wind. And off we were again, this time in the right direction.
The first stop we made was at the turnoff to the Tonopah Test Range airport – apparently this is where all the testing for the Stealth fighter was done. Half-way to Ely is the turnoff to the 375 – the Extraterrestrial Highway. As soon as we turned onto the highway, I remember seeing very tall mountains on the horizon, completely covered in white, and thinking that sure I sure hope that is not where we are going. The mountains stayed to the horizon all the way. CutiePie kept up with her synchro workout on the back of the bike, and was freaking out the local Air Force as well as the UFOs: “What’s with the crazy air traffic controller chick?!?!”
About half-way down the 375, in Rachel, NV, you actually come to the a sign that declares this to be the Extraterrestrial Highway, right before the Little A’Le’Inn – most people pronounce it little alien inn. As CJ said: you cannot pass up the opportunity to have lunch at a dive in the middle of nowhere! This is where you can also find maps and photographs of the super-secret-illegal-to-photograph Area 51! The Eastern end of the highway even has some neat twisties – overall a really fun ride!
Last stop was the Alamo, NV. Brings back memories of bygone days, when I got almost abandoned by Bonnie and almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer! This time I heeded the “No gas for next 75 miles” sign, a filled up.
To find Groom Dry Lake on the map, where the actual Area 51 is located, is left as an exercise for the reader.